Discrimination and attitudes to training must be tackled for more Londoners to get work. Michael Prestage reports.
Ethnic minorities in London have twice the unemployment rate of their white counterparts with the same level of qualifications, according to a study of skills of the capital's workforce.
The Lifetime Learning in London report produced by the capital's training and enterprise councils was prompted by their obligation to assess progress towards national training targets. More than 13,500 individuals, both in and out of work, were questioned about their qualifications, attitudes to training and language skills.
Simon Ellis, policy and research manager with the London TEC, said ethnic minorities had achieved and surpassed national training targets, which the white population has failed to do, but were still being discriminated against. He says: "The findings confirmed earlier reports. There is a clear message that people with a high level of appropriate qualifications are not getting a job."
In two London boroughs - Newham and Tower Hamlets - ethnic minorities will be a majority by 2002. If the problem of discrimination is not addressed there would be a clear market failure in terms of labour supply and demand.
The report will enable training and enterprise councils and further education colleges to develop a skills strategy for London that will help to improve training and make it more consistent.
The survey shows that in the 18 to 24 age group - the focus of the Government's New Deal policy - almost a quarter of the unemployed have no qualifications, though as a whole there was a positive attitude to training.
Simon Ellis says: "The New Deal needs to relate to the whole population, beyond 18 to 24-year-olds. There is a large percentage of unemployed who have not been considering training opportunities. New Deal needs to address this, changing attitudes."
The survey found skills shortages in sales staff, accounts staff, clerks, chefs, transport workers and construction workers presenting a strong case to target training provision in these sectors.
The report also highlights the problem the workforce has competing with commuters, who were found to have a uniformly higher level of qualifications than Londoners. Simon Ellis says: "Fundamentally, because of commuters, if we are to tackle high levels of unemployment in parts of London, the London workforce must raise its skill levels to compete."
He believes that higher levels of training need to be directed towards London residents rather than parts of the country where there is no competition from an incoming labour force.
* Who's in the dole queue:
Professional 7.1 Advanced level 9.7 GCSE A-C (or equivalent) 12.1 GCSE D-G (or equivalent) 16.9 No qualification 22.9 % BLACK
Advanced level 14.1
GCSE A-C (or equivalent) 20.8
GCSE D-G (or equivalent) 27.0
No qualification 41.0
Advanced level 10.6
GCSE A-C (or equivalent) 19.3
GCSE D-G (or equivalent) 23.8
No qualification 37.0
* Estimated unemployment rate by qualification and ethnicity for the whole employment age range.
* WHO'S LOOKING TO IMPROVE:
Actively seeking retraining - TOTAL 17%; EMPLOYED 13%; JOBLESS 27%; INACTIVE 25%
Considering but not actively seeking - TOTAL 21%; EMPLOYED 22%; JOBLESS 19%; INACTIVE 19%
Not considering but will in future - TOTAL 30%; EMPLOYED 32%; JOBLESS 28%; INACTIVE 25%
No intention of considering - TOTAL 27%; EMPLOYED 28%; JOBLESS 20%; INACTIVE 24%
No response - TOTAL 5%; EMPLOYED 4%; JOBLESS 6%; INACTIVE 7%
Number of people - TOTAL 13,631; EMPLOYED 9,703; JOBLESS 1,905; INACTIVE 2,023